OPINION: Gun violence is a serious challenge, now it’s time for the Senate to act

June 14, 2018 By Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz For Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Photo courtesy of Cagle Cartoons
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Here in New York, we are fortunate to have some of the strongest gun laws in the country and I want to thank the members of the Assembly — led by Speaker Carl Heastie — for passing measures this spring that would have extended our background check waiting period to 10 days, banned bump stocks and prevented those who have perpetrated domestic violence from obtaining a handgun.   

And in late May, a state Senate committee advanced one of the measures, if passed, will allow police and prosecutors to confiscate weapons from people deemed a danger to themselves or others.  All of this gives us reason to hope that our state can continue to take common sense measures to protect our communities and our children. 

But this victory does not mean that our fight to end gun violence is anywhere close to complete. We need the State Senate to pass the Assembly’s proposals and deliver them to the governor’s desk.  

We must also stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those in the private sector who join with us in opposition to the NRA and would rather protect kids than guns.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

Several retailers are imposing limits on the purchase of firearms in their stores – steps that reflect common sense proposals we’re debating in New York state. Dick’s Sporting Goods has announced that it will stop selling assault-style weapons and will require gun buyers to be at least 21 years old.  Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer, has also imposed a minimum age requirement of 21 years to purchase firearms and after destocking assault-style weapons in 2015, will now stop selling items that resemble these guns.  

Citigroup announced it would only do business with retail sector clients who do not sell bump stocks or high-capacity magazines, sell firearms to purchasers under 21 or sell to customers who have not passed a background check.  

These businesses should be applauded for their actions — they’re in line with the values of the majority of Americans.  But their common-sense move has exposed them to the venom of the NRA and their supporters across the country.  In Georgia, state lawmakers pulled tax benefits for Delta Airlines after the company chose to discontinue a discount for NRA members.  Republican U.S. Senators on the Banking Committee are publicly chastising companies and banks – including Bank of America and Citi – and threatening them for having a conscience.   

Enough is enough — we shouldn’t be penalizing these companies, we should be thanking them for adding their voice to the fight, it can be a model for what more the private sector should do.

Gun violence is a serious challenge. To confront it, we need to work together, taking what works from government, the private sector and local communities and crafting common-sense solutions to help end the bloodshed. 

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